75586 - Environmental Auditing and Corporate Social Responsibility

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Federica Farneti

  • Credits 6

  • SSD SECS-P/07

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Rimini

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Resource Economics and Sustainable Development (cod. 8839)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Zero hunger Good health and well-being Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

This Environmental Auditing and CSR course focuses on the relationship between accounting and sustainability from an international and multidisciplinary perspective. More specifically, the course aims to have students appreciate the way theory, regulation and practice contribute to align financial performance and environmental, social and governance indicators (E.S.G.). According to this purpose, the course presents tools comprising a systematic, documented, periodic and objective evaluation of the performance of the organization, management system and processes designed to protect the environment with the aim of: (1) facilitating management control of practices which may have impact on the environment, (2) assessing compliance with company policies; and 3) the systematic examination of the interaction between any business operation and its surrounding. This course aims to: - To encourage a general understanding of Principles and Standards for Environmental Management Systems; - To comprehend the role of information, accounting and reporting in the interaction between business and society; - To reflect on the link between financial and sustainability performance driven by an organization’s strategy; - To highlight outstanding best practices and imagine new tools/processes that might have an impact in the future of the accounting practice and or/research.

Course contents

The Environmental Auditing and Corporate Social Responsibility course provides knowledge on the various dimensions of accounting and accountability, ethics, social responsibility and sustainability reporting for organisations, stakeholders, corporate social responsibility, business and ethical environment, business and government in global society, the corporate and the natural environment, disclosure of non-financial and diversity information, information included in the non-financial statement or in the separate report verified by an independent assurance services provider.

At the end of the course students will be able to understand:

- why the relationship between business and society is becoming more complex?

- why business people and professionals need to be interested in corporate social responsibility, ethics, accountability and sustainability reporting?

- why business face the need of public scrutiny?

- can ethics be understood and applied in everyday business and how? Also, can ethical behavior contribute to profitability?

- what do we mean by corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, and sustainability reporting? What is the meaning of social assurance?

- What is the Directive 2014/95/EU and what are its contents? How the information included in the non-financial statement or in the separate report are verified by an independent assurance services provider?

- why ecological and environmental problems have forced business and governments to take actions?

The outline of the course is based on the following topics:

1) Introduction: Organisations, Corporations and its Stakeholders

2) Corporate Social Responsibility

3) Ethics and Ethical Reasoning

4) Organizational Ethics and the Law

5) Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability Reporting

6) Frameworks for Sustainability Reporting

7) the Directive 2014/95/EU and its contents

8) Managing Environmental Issues

9) Further topics in line with current literature



Book for the course:

  • Book for the course: Lawrence, A., Weber, J., Post, J., (2020), Business and Society. Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy, McGraw-Hill Irwin (you can purchase this online). Not all the chapters of the book are included for this course.

  • DIRECTIVE 2014/95/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014L0095&from=EN

    Further reading (to develop case study):

  • Federica Farneti, Federica Casonato, Monica Montecalvo, Charl de Villiers, (2019), The influence of Integrated Reporting and stakeholder information needs on the disclosure of social information in a state-owned enterprise, Meditari Accountancy Research, in press, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 556-579.
  • Zangheri, A., Farneti, F., (2019), Insights on non-financial disclosure in major corporations and reflections on SMEs, based in forlì-cesena, before directive 95/2014: the path towards greater transparency?, in a cura di, Gennari, F., Lo sviluppo sostenibile delle micro piccole e medie imprese, Giappichelli, Collana del Dipartimento di Sociologia e Diritto dell’Economia, Università di Bologna, pp. 53-81.
  • Casonato, F., Farneti, F., and Dumay, J., (2019), Social capital and integrated reporting: Losing legitimacy when reporting talk is not supported by actions, Journal of Intellectual Capital for special issue Extending Intellectual Capital Through Integrated Reporting special issue, Vo. 20, N.1, pp. 144-164.
  • Dumay, La Torre, Farneti, (2019), Developing trust through stewardship: Implications for Intellectual Capital, Integrated Reporting, and the EU Directive 2014/95/EU, Journal of Intellectual Capital, for special issue Extending Intellectual Capital Through Integrated Reporting special issue, Vo. 20, N.1., pp. 11-39.
  • Farneti F., Guthrie, J., (2009), Sustainability reporting by Australian public sector organisations: Why they report?”, Accounting Forum, Vol. 33 pp. 89-98.
  • Guthrie, J., Farneti F., (2008), GRI Sustainability reporting by Australian public sector organisations,Public Money & Management, Vol 28, No. 6, pp. 361-366.
  • Massa, L., [http://www.emeraldinsight.com/action/doSearch?ContribStored=Massa%2C+L] Farneti, F., and Scappini, B., (2015) "Developing a sustainability report in a small to medium enterprise: process and consequences", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 23 Iss: 1, pp. 62 – 91.
  • Gherardi, L., Guthrie, J., and and Farneti F., (2014), Stand-Alone Sustainability Reporting and the use of GRI in Italian Vodafone: A longitudinal analysis, Procedia - Social and Behavioral, Vol. 164, pp. 11 – 25.

Further reading (for research):

  • Ball and Osborne, (2011), Social Accounting and Public Management, Routledge
  • Guthrie Marcon Russo Farneti (2014), Public Value Management Measurment and Reporting, Emerald
  • Gry Adams Owen (2014), Accountability, Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Pearson
  • Bebbington, Unerman and O'Dwyer, (2014), Sustainability Accounting and accpuntability, Routledge
  • Zabihollah Rezaee, (2015), Business Sustainability. Performance, Compliance, Accountability and Integrated Reporting, Greenleaf.
  • Further readings might be suggested.

Teaching methods


Teaching methods and, possibly, guest speakers

The pedagogical approach is based on a combination of lectures, interactive classes, seminars,case study, research and working groups.

If possible, guest speakers will be invited to lecture on contemporary issues.

Discussion questions and multiple choices

Assessment methods


With reference April 2022 exam

  1. Group Class presentation

    Case write-up. The groups will consist of a small group of students who will select the case organisation to be analysed.

    The case will consist of group work which analyses a particular Italian or international organisation with specific focus on accounting, ethics, corporate social responsibility, sustainability reporting, social and environmental audit.

    The Group Class presentation is worth the 30% of the final mark of this course.

  2. Online End of term examination

A final online examination will be held at the end of term and will consist of a number of multiple choices and open questions related to different elements of the course programme. The end of term examination is worth 70% of the final mark of this course.


For other exams (June and September 2022) only Online examination based on multiple choices and open questions

The Assessment methods could change because of Covid-19 needs. If the emergency will continue, given the exam could be sat remotely, it might present structural changes. For example, we will largely use multiple choice questions regarding the covered topics.

Teaching tools


International articles

Case study method

Discussion questions

Individual written assignment

Group Class presentation

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Federica Farneti